Lord, teach us to pray!

Lord, teach us to pray… Luke 11.1

Prayer is not just nice – it is necessary.

Too often prayer is viewed as some rite or ritual with little involvement or makeup. 

We may have heard of “saying our prayers” before a meal or bedtime or when we have gone into a church building. 

Other times, prayer is given some lip-service and acknowledged as important but seems all too lacking. It is an optional extra – nice but not necessary. All too often it is a brief afterthought. 

A tale of two meetings

A vivid illustration of this stands out to me. Some time back I attended a fraternal of pastors. Allegedly of like mind theologically, one might think that this would strengthen resolve and unity in prayer. Towards the end of the time it was suggested that we spend some time in prayer. It was rather bewildering when one pastor said “Do we have too? Couldn’t just one person pray?” Another seemed uncomfortable with the idea before it was uttered “It’s ok…go on then…just keep it short.” 

Some months later, I attended another meeting of some pastors many of which had different backgrounds on some secondary and tertiary issues. And yet there was a love, a unity, a friendliness, and a passion not present at the first meeting. The difference? The first 30-45 minutes was devoted exclusively to fervent prayer. Not slow, not reluctant, not overthinking, but spontaneous, eager, truly thoughtful, honest, and active. At a few points some simple choruses of praise were sung. Not announced or looked at on a sheet. Just spontaneously sung from the heart.

Model prayers

 If you are struggling to pray, if you don’t know what to say – why not approach the Lord in prayer about that? Ask as the disciples, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Then look at the models of prayer throughout the Scriptures from the book of prayers and songs that is the Psalms to the prayers of the heavenly realm in Revelation. Jesus guides his disciples in Luke 11 saying:

When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.

A simple acrostic as you learn to pray is A.C.T.S.

A = adoration. Do you love God? Then shouldn’t you express that? Shouldn’t you praise Him? Approach Him for who He is in majesty – our loving Father in Heaven – whose very name is holy!

C = confession. Everyone has thought, said, and done things that are not good when observed by God, things that are evil, that are wrong. The Bible calls this ‘sin’ and speaks of this sin as alienating us from God. But through Jesus Christ we can confess our sin to God, asking that he would forgive us while giving us an attitude of forgiveness to others.

T = thanksgiving. Just as we ask for God’s provision and protection, we acknowledge He continues to provide day by day. Have we received good things in life? Have we been helped in all situations? Do we have life? What are our blessings? Count them up and give God thanks!

S = supplication. This is basically an old-time word for ‘asking’. Prayer is petitioning God on the basis of His mercy, bringing cares and needs and desires of others and ourselves to God. Do you ask God? Do you ask God with right motives? Do you bring your cares and needs to God, knowing He cares for you?

Lord, do teach us to pray!

A Walk with God

By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks.  By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God. And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

Hebrews 11.4-6

You cannot walk with God when running from Him

In the beginning, immediately after mankind’s sin that results in the fall from right relationship with God (Genesis 3) there is an implication in Genesis 3.8 that it was not unusual for God to walk with Adam and Eve.  The idea of ‘walking with God’ conveys the idea of closeness, intimacy, and fellowship. After mankind’s sin, the sound of God walking causes man to run from God rather than to him. This pattern is repeated throughout the Scriptures. Cain is warned by God to not allow sin to seize him (Genesis 4). Cain murders Abel and tries to cover up his guilt without success (“Am I my brother’s keeper?). Rather than walking with God, he runs from Him and reaps the consequences.

Where others who are finally faithful fail, we see their failings accompanied by a seeming developed distance between the individual and God.

Think about a couple of familiar cases.

Samson and his conquests and exploits (not speaking so much of the battlefield as the bed here): running away from God and His way.

David and Bathsheba: David’s taking of Bathsheba follows a slow but steady regression in which David takes multiple wives (going against God’s law for kings in Deuteronomy 17.14-20) and his relationship with God seems far from close at the time. 

Solomon: Once said to be the wisest man and the writer of much of the Proverbs, Solomon foolishly took many wives who worshiped different gods. Having already begun to wander in His closeness to God, this drew him after other gods and other purposes. Ecclesiastes seems to recount the tragic and vain wanderings of Solomon to rediscover that a truly successful life is one that fears God and keeps His commands (Ecclesiastes 12.13)

Enoch

While Adam was still alive, Enoch was born. It is said of Enoch in Genesis 5.21-24 that after he fathered Methuselah, he “walked with God” 300 years and then was removed from Earth in a way other than death. Not much is known about Enoch beyond this and the commentary of Hebrews 11. But we can discern from the strange name of Methuselah, which means something to the effect of “when he dies, it will come” that Enoch seems to have realised the consequences of mankind’s running from God. The year Methuselah died, the flood of Noah’s day destroyed the world. Enoch was clearly a man of prayer and in this walked with God.

Prayer is walking with God

Real and successful prayer cannot be offered to God without believing 1.) that God exists and 2.) that He rewards those who diligently seek Him. 

It is interesting how many people will suddenly pray about something they want or genuinely need, but they either 1.) don’t actually believe in God but are “just giving it [prayer] a go” or 2.) believe God is real but spend most of the time behaving as if He isn’t or doesn’t care about our action or 3.) approach God believing He is, but doubting whether or not He is good or is the giver of good things. In the first two cases, prayer should not be expected to be answered unless it a prayer of repentance and faith; God is and calls for us to acknowledge and worship Him. In the latter case, the letter of James chapter 1 says this individual shouldn’t expect anything from God because of the individual’s double-mindedness and instability in how they approach God. 

In order to truly pray you must first approach God for who He is and what He does, believing in Him as He has revealed Himself in Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1.1). Walking with God and praying to Him go hand in hand.

In order to pray to God you must walk with God. In order to walk with God you must pray to God. 

Start praying!

When people first began to pray.

A son was born to Seth also, and he named him Enosh. At that time people began to call on the name of the Lord.

When did prayer (at least to some extent, as we understand it) begin?

Communicating with God

We know from the early chapters of Genesis that Adam and Eve had a close relationship with God. They enjoyed direct communication with the Creator (Genesis 1.28-30; 2.16-17; 3). Sadly, Adam and Eve plunged humanity into a state of estrangement and alienation from God that required reconciliation through sacrifice (Genesis 4.1-4). Adam and Eve’s son Cain kills their other son Abel leading to God’s judgement on Cain which sees him torn away from his family to become a fugitive and nomad.

A New Hope?

God provides Adam and Eve with another son whom they name Seth which means ‘anointed’. His name perhaps reflects the hope that he would be the fulfilment of God’s promise to Eve that her offspring would crush the sin Serpent’s head (Genesis 3.15). But this doesn’t happen and Seth father’s a son aptly named Enosh – ‘mortal/man’ and implies dependence and sickliness; neither Seth nor his son would bring the hope mankind needed.

Crying out to God

Perhaps it was at this point that the consequences of the Fall and the long road to full redemption were more appropriately realised. As mankind multiplied, so did sin. It was at this time that Genesis 4.26 says that “people began to call on the name of the Lord” – that is, they began to pray.

At its core, prayer is calling upon the name of the Lord, approaching Him for He is and trusting in faith that He will hear and answer according to His purpose. Call on Him today!

In the next month, The Angel Church is focusing on prayer and fasting and we will be posting articles to help understanding and guidance in these crucial areas. 

Hope and help…salvation

2016 was quite the year. Troubles and unexpected happenings across the world on multiple fronts. Whatever you, we, or others may or may not have suffered, regardless of the situation, there can be help. There can be hope. While we must still deal with difficulties and occasional or, in some cases, constant calamity in 2017, in looking to Christ for salvation, we will find strength. At the end of it all, Jesus wins. 

Here is a video with a reminder of this truth by Regan.

Happy New Year!

Test your knowledge!

 

What do the below men have in common?


lightLeonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519), Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626), Joseph Lister (1827-1912), Johann Kepler (1571-1630), Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), Charles Babbage (1791-1871), Samuel Morse (1791-1872), Michael Faraday (1790-1867), Louis Pasteur (1822-1895), James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879), Lord Kelvin (1824-1907), James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879), Sir Ambrose Fleming (1849-1945), and George Washington Carver (1860-1943)

Great inventors. Magnificent scientists. Fathers of modern science, refrigeration, electro-dynamics, and technology to name a few areas of influence. These men have for centuries been recognised as truly brilliant minds and pioneers of modern technology. This isn’t the only thing these men had in common though. They all believed one thing that many today, possibly including you, think only idiots believe. They read, studied, and believed the words of a book, the Bible that say God created the world, man sinned and brought death into the world, and that the only hope for man to be right with God now and forever is in Jesus Christ. They saw no inconsistency between their faith and the science they were coming to know – to the contrary they were directly inspired by their knowledge of God through the Bible and what they discovered in creation. Does this surprise you? I asked one man ‘What do you think about the Bible?’ He replied ‘I think it’s a load of s***’ I asked ‘What makes you say that? Have you read it?’ The man said ‘No. I don’t want to!’ Not exactly an informed opinion, but a route that many have taken. Have you actually considered the Bible and its claims? Are you missing out on the life-transforming truth that is found in Jesus? You don’t have to. 

To find out more please contact us through our connect with us page and we will arrange a time to meet up with you!

What do you need?

Life. Its a beautiful thing. It’s complexity is astounding. From the awesome order of the universe to the intricacies of human anatomy and nature, life should take our breath away (yes, a terrible pun!) and give us great joy. And yet so often life is anything but joyful. Bad choices and destructive decisions by ourselves and by every other person has made this world a dangerous and often sad place where life always ends in death.

Loneliness. Many if not most of us have been there. The world we live in can be an unfriendly place, but often if we are honest we haven’t helped much. We often have burned bridges with family and friends. We enjoy pessimism, cynicism, and skepticism in almost everything. We think we are entitled to the best life possible, but we want the best given to us. Some try and work hard, but money and status become the  focus and loneliness and depression wins. We feel alone and at times without meaning or purpose. What can fix it?

Love. Love can fix the loneliness. ‘Love is all you need’ sang the Beatles. It is the subject of songs, books, and plays a central part in most movies. And yet, love is so little understood. Think about it. What is love? Is it just hormones in action? That’s casual sex. Is it a feeling at first sight? More often than not that is attraction at best, lust at worst. The reason we feel like we lack love is because viewing love as purely romantic, or an attitude to family and friends falls short of a full understanding of love.

Light. If only we could know the right way to go in life. Enlightenment. A theoretical torch to shine the way in a world of death, depression, despising, and darkness – the opposites of what we need to have life to the full. If only…

Life, an end to loneliness, love, and enlightenment. We don’t like to admit it, but each one of us is needy. The good news is that those needs can be met. Ask yourself how well your own  attempts have worked. How has burning your bridges with family and friends helped? Has money and status satisfied? Have substances made life better and easier? If you are an atheist, has it actually made things better? Have you considered how in the past century, atheistic ideology was at the centre of up to 260 million violent deaths? How has turning to man to fix man’s mess helped anything? If you are religious what is your definition of religion? Occasional religious meeting attendance and going through rites and rituals helps no one. Religion, by the Bible’s definition is filled with faith and good works (James ) but for most people there is little faith and even fewer good works.

There is hope and help if looked for in the right place, which happens to be in the life of one, Jesus Christ. Here are His answers to our needs.

When it comes to life Jesus said “I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
In a way that can end loneliness, people who follow Jesus’ teaching are tasked with forming  selfless communities that regularly meet together to stir one another up to love and good works – the proper way of ‘church’.
Jesus said that genuine selfless love would characterise his true disciples and assures us that ‘God so loved the world that he gave us his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.’ For the one who comes to experience this love from God and lives it out, nothing can take it away or separate from it. As for enlightenment, we can find the right way of life through understanding God’s will as recorded in the Bible. It has been compared to a lamp that shows the way down an apparently dark path. Jesus said ‘I am the light of the world’. If we reject Jesus we are choosing to remain in the darkness caused by our own sin and that of others and will rather than experiencing Jesus’ new heaven and Earth will be in what the Bible describes as eternal darkness, hell. That doesn’t have to happen if you look for hope and help in Jesus.

To look further into Jesus and His claims or to arrange a time to talk visit the ‘Connect with us‘ page.